last day

Last Last Day: Thanks For Tuning In :)

Recap Time. On my final day of One-Week Job, I was a little nervous. When I got to the studio, I couldn't find Niblett. The turnaround between radio shows is very quick; I had become used to only having five minutes to relax in the studio before going on air. However, I had also become used to Niblett running around, using those five minutes to prepare.

At six minutes to 6pm, he was nowhere to be found.

I sat in my chair and waited, pretending to write something on my notepad. I started to wonder what I was to do if 6pm were to hit. Maybe I should go find someone, I thought. Two minutes later, Niblett came through the door, confirming that I had internally overreacted for nothing. He was carrying all of his belongings, and wearing a Candy 95 Polo shirt and a grin.

I was relieved that I wasn't going to have to do the last show alone, but I was curious about the routine changes. During talk breaks, Nibs told me what was up.

A DJ's time isn't always spent in an official studio. Sometimes a DJ does remote broadcasting, which is on-air broadcasting from any place outside a studio. Certain businesses or organizations can request this type of broadcasting, so any event they may be holding can gain more awareness. DJs can also show up to certain events sans broadcasting. As I said in the previous post, DJs are public figures, and while many people hate public figures, many people love them.

And kids, of all people, LOVE public figures, ESPECIALLY DJs.

Earlier that day, Niblett and other Candy DJs went to Grand Station Entertainment, a local bowling and lazer tag place, to eat and bowl with a group of young kids. That was why he came into the studio a little late. I'm not sure what group the children were from, but Niblett made it clear to me that they had to deal with way more than they should be at their age.

It was a rare and special day for the kids, because they got to relax, have some fun, and “be normal” for once. Niblett told me how much fun he had playing with and getting to know each and every one of the kids, and how he felt like he was being meaningful with his time:

They were so excited to meet me and hang out with me. And the feeling was instantly and naturally mutual. I felt like I was doing something real good. I'm so glad you were here for me to talk about this, Michelle. This is the reason I do radio. To be in a position where I can give back in this way. This is the reason.”


Niblett showed me a paper plate that had all the kids' name on it; he planned to give a shout-out to all of them when he got a chance. He rewrote all the names on another sheet of paper so he could make sure everyone was accounted for. The whole thing was so cute to hear and witness. Niblett is a guy with a ton of energy, but the energy he was emitting on my last day was something new. I fed off of it, and we had a smooth show full of laughs and healthy drama.

The entire night went by quickly and normally, as good experiences always seem to. In what seemed like an hour but was really five, my OWJ journey ended. What was next? I had no idea.

I rarely do. :)

Question Time.

What did you dislike about the job?

  1. I wish I had been in a position where I could have contributed more. There wasn't really a lot I could do in terms of clip editing and program organization because I lacked specific skills.
  2. Working in the evenings is a little tricky. You get to sleep in extremely late, but you end up feeling lazy somewhere around 6pm because of the traditional work day ingrained in our minds and bodies. Because I didn't have a lot of other things to do during the day, I would end up searching for things to do to fill my time until my shift began. Also, everyone else ends work when you begin, so it's hard to coordinate schedules and hang out. I think I prefer to work hard during the day (not necessarily all day or at specific times), and play at night. If I have to work at night, I'd want to work extremely late, like 2am. I focus better when others are asleep.
  3. I don't do well with illusions. Everyone in radio/television/film/music knows that there are a LOT of “tricks of the trade.” It's similar to when you have your favorite celebrity and you discover parts of them that you thought were real are completely fabricated. Some people's lives are ruined when they stumble upon these truths. And if you think you know it all, you probably don't. Or you probably don't want to know. Accordingly, there is the “illusion of radio” that simply has to be kept, otherwise the sound is no longer as fresh and entertaining. There is a persona that has to be maintained. It has nothing to do with being “fake,” it's just how things are done. Whatever work I want to do, I want to be able to share the heck out of it with people as much as I can. There are limits to that vision with radio work. Kind of the reason for the repeated pictures. ;) Shh it's a secret.
  4. The routine level is too high. You have to come in at a specific time, and you have to play specific songs, among other things. I think those requirements would incite some ennui in me after some time.
  5. Night radio presents itself in quick and short periods. I'm not a quick thinker – well not THAT quick. Niblett's ability to come up with clever comebacks within 5 seconds on air will never cease to amaze me. The same goes for his ability to edit sound clips of phone calls to air in minutes. That kind of work is something that would stress me out, which is probably the reason for the giggling instead of trying to match wits with Niblett. I like to talk and discuss for longer than a few one wants that at night. :)
  6. I don't want to be in a job where I'm working alone. Niblett usually works the 6pm to 11pm shift all by himself, and I imagine that after a few years, time would start to pass extremely slowly because you have no one else to talk to. I simply need a lot of face-to-face (F2F) interaction if I'm going to be working. With breaks, of course. But I can't give people up altogether. :)

What did you like about the job?

  1. I liked being in a position where I could spread love and I knew that a good amount of people were listening. I'm referencing Niblett's experience with the kids, but I got some stories myself. Being a DJ was just another fun experience for me. I never thought I was a celebrity or anything, or that anyone was actually listening. However, in the end, it was surprising to hear/read how many people were listening to my voice. It was pretty cool to find out.
  2. Being able to give shout-outs on air was awesome. I got to return support to some of the people who helped me get into the One-Week Job Program. It warmed my heart so much to be able to give back in such a small way. It made me think about all the good I could do in the world, and those types of thoughts never get old for me.
  3. I liked interacting with people via the radio station SMS account and phone calls too. I liked being surrounded by opinions. But again, calls and texts wouldn't be enough for me. I'd need some F2F.
  4. I liked being on the air just to be on the air! When I wasn't giggling, I was comfortable with the microphone, and that was both exciting and encouraging. A lot of people would find that type of exposure daunting; I was pleased that I took on the task with relative ease. It's always nice not to suck at something.
  5. To oppose the routine level comment, I do like SOME routine. I said this during week # 6. Pop (music) is priceless and necessary, in my opinion, for its simplicity, contagiousness, and requirement for dancing. Being surrounded by music every minute of work kept my mood up.
  6. Lastly, the thing I liked most about being a Radio DJ was having a co-host. Excuse me – BEING a co-host. Having someone to talk to whenever I wanted. :D I loved talking with Niblett constantly and getting to know about his life, talking about tons of topics. It was like an instant friendship for me. Did I mention I need this sort of thing in my job?

What lessons did you learn from being a radio DJ / Week 8?

  1. "Stay humble, no matter who you are." - Niblett. People will like you more.
  2. No news is good news. The public has opinions, and some people will call your manager to report you for something just because they don't like what you said on the radio. Some people will call your manager to praise you, but it's less likely. Therefore, it's better to not hear anything at all.
  3. Shake it off. For those in the spotlight, you have a responsibility to speak your own thoughts, and to respect others'. Unfortunately and once more, some people are behind and cannot comprehend fundamental civility. These types of people will seem to quadruple if you work in the entertainment industry. Recognize this, and take everything lightly. Heated responses are futile and immature in most cases.
  4. However, don't become heartless or crazy because you keep all your feelings inside. You can have feelings. Balance is key. Do what you need to do.
  5. Someone's probably listening. Or someone will. Speak on. This goes beyond radio waves. Think love and happiness and human connection and things like that.
  6. Be patient. Don't assume things. Ever. There's always more to people, to their stories. Make the commitment to listen, just like they're probably willing to listen to you.

Oh wow. These lessons make it seem as if I went back to the basics of “how to make friends and love people”, the stuff that you learn when you start going to school. "Share" and that stuff. I suppose we all need that refresher course every few years. It is easy to forget patience and love and all that when you hate what you spend most of your time doing. :)

Would you do this as a more-than-one-week job?

Yes, I would, but probably on a morning talk show and less often. Maybe once or twice a week? Five times a week might be too much for me.

A big "THANK YOU!!!!!" to the big boss, Alli, from “Morning Candy with Frito and Alli” for giving the final “okay” for me to work with Candy.

And to Niblett:

If my words from my time with you didn't convey it enough, I respect you a lot. Thank you for letting me steal your thunder a bit. Thank you for refilling my water cup so many times, you're a true gentleman. Thank you for the many votes of confidence. Thank you for being you. I had a "blast" hanging out and just TALKING with you for five days. I definitely consider you a friend, so:


Reflection Time.

The value of voice revealed itself to me a lot during Week #8. I found that the voice I needed to work as a radio DJ was both literal and figurative. In a quick attempt to process my eight weeks, I admitted to myself that my voice matters.

Moreover, I admitted to myself that I never fully believed in my abilities to effect change. I've always been a proponent of every individual's...individuality, doing all that I could to encourage as many people as possible to speak their mind.

But I wasn't practicing what I was preaching. I was spending most of my time helping others, while I was letting myself drown. My esteem was not at the level it should have been, evident in the amount of fear and doubt that was consuming me in my past.

Saying and doing are not the same thing, and with One-Week Job...everything about One-Week Job made all my thoughts, ideas, and hopes a reality. It confirmed that my "power beyond measure."

I'm so very grateful and fortunate for this breakthrough, and I know I may have to be reminded of it when things aren't as easy.

You know...i should be whatever i want. i should say whatever i want. i should do whatever i want. i should live well, and i should live unashamedly. So i will. My voice matters, and someone will listen to me when i speak. Not just hear. Someone already does. That's enough for me "to not just exist, but be alive." Our lives are too short to keep quiet. I'm getting all “Gen Y” here but simply put...

Express Yourself.

Find out what that means. Look for Yourself. Don't be embarrassed or afraid to do so.

And when You're expressing, express excessively. These actions should hurt no one.

And if they do, that's THEIR problem.

Those who mind don't matter.

You know the rest. :D


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Seventh Last Day: Good Ride, Good Pride

Recap Time. I felt good Friday morning. Jolly, semi-hyper. When I walked to work, I listened to my music and sang out loud. Danced a little. Thinking back, I believe my mood stemmed from the knowledge that I had truly tried my best all week. No matter what happened, no matter what anybody thought or said, I had put in killer effort for this job. Not everybody could say that if they were in my position.

I arrived at the shop at 9:30am since Korey and I were doing a GCA, and I got everything ready.

This trip was to be my time. My time to shine. The night before, Korey told me that the best way to lead the trip was to wait to be asked questions first, then I could answer and slowly gain the trust of the passengers.

Well, this is what happened.

The boat filled up with passengers, and I began talking about safety, fumbling a few words as I backed out smoothly. It became very obvious very quickly that the crowd was rough. There was very little response to anything, quite unlike the atmosphere of Thursday's trip. I made a bad, pre-arrangedjoke about how it was my first day, and that was why I was wearing a lifejacket. No laughter. At this point, we technically still hadn't left the dam yet. I gave an insufficient introduction about the area, even though I had sat through five introductions throughout the week. No response. Korey later told me: “You gotta get them from beginning.”

I didn't do so hot with that goal.

After the intro, followed by what was pretty much silence, I lost all the information that I knew, that I had studied all week, that I had heard repeated to me all week from the mouths of different people, in different ways. My “interp” was suddenly gone. I didn't obsessively cram the night before or anything, and I avoided doing the same thing the morning of. I treated the day as normal, but though the trip wasn't becoming a nightmare, it wasn't turning out as I had hoped it would. The thought of driving and talking no longer seemed possible. After I made another attempt to “Interp” (it's a verb now, yes haha!), I gave Korey a partially-helpless look, and he didn't let me linger alone for much longer. I silently thanked him.

After that, Korey made a few attempts to include me and get me talking, but I could contribute very little in the way of history facts. I had truly lost my info. When we got to the first beach stop, I didn't park well. Korey pretty much took over after this, and for some reason, I wasn't embarrassed. I guess I was tired of feeling as such, so I instead adopted a critical aspect of river-guiding: personal connection.

As the boss, Korey was doing a superb job of both driving and talking (he even had a few props: some canyon pictures, a notebook full of invigorating quotes, and a fun water-gun-hose-pump thing), but the passengers were still kind of quiet. During the tail-end of my boat-driving, I slowly called on a few people and asked them what they were about, making jokes. At beach stops, I got out of the boat and interacted with passengers, even some from other boats. I got overwhelmingly positive responses and by the end of the trip, I was communicating freely with people. An important part of being a river guide is being able to read your audience, like I mentioned during my time with Easy. Well, our passengers were stiff, but just needed pushing...they kinda needed to be spoon-fed, so that's what Korey and I had to do. I with the conversation-starting, and Korey with the good story-telling.

I wasn't educating anyone about Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and I wasn't driving a boat, but I was still making people feel comfortable, and that's important anywhere, for any type of job. Here's some proof of the bonding I'm talking about:

I mentioned that Korey did a great job as a river guide, but I should add that it was the best trip I'd been on in terms of who was running it. During much of the second half of the trip, I sat with the passengers and listened to Korey tell the stories of the Canyon. It was like being in a history class except the history class met around a fire in the middle of the woods. Everything is calm and quiet, and the only voice you can hear is that of the storyteller, whose words are released with a humble pride, assurance, and genuine respect and love for the tales. I've mentioned the different methods of the different guides before. Well, that also pertained to the actual facts being presented. It was funny to hear slightly-different numbers or quantities being recited. It made me wonder where each river guide got their extra information, or rather, what their rationalization was for rounding or not rounding. All in all, history's somewhat unstable. But exciting nonetheless.

When we got to the end of the trip, people were asking Korey much more than they were in the beginning. Despite the rocky start, Korey had “caught” them and kept them. Nearing Lee's Ferry, I looked up and saw the eyes of most every passenger looking up at Korey, ready for the next piece of history he was going to share.

He actually ended the trip with what sounded like a poem, entitled “A Song of Glen”. In short, the song talks about the importance of preserving the natural state of Glen Canyon, a passionate plea to prevent the damming of it. As Korey read through each stanza, it was surprisingly un-corny. When he finished, I shook my head in awe, disbelief, and with a little bit of laughter. I clapped, and everyone joined in heartily. The trip was in a league of its own, and even though I barely led it, even though it turned out nothing like I had hoped, especially when I had committed in my mind to actually doing it, I was happy to end my time on the river with an exceptional trip. I call Korey “The Glen Guru” now. I don't think he finds the name as clever as I do, but I will persist with it. :)

I drove the boat back to the dam one last time, navigating better than I had ever done before. It was windy again, but not as much as it was on Wednesday. At the end of the day, each river guide has to park their boats away from the dock, and one river guide has to pick everyone up and drop them back at the dock. That was me, and I did well at this in my opinion! I rammed into one staircase, but it was all good! I then parked the “22' x 14' inflatable, aluminum-framed raft” near the dock. I had gotten better at a lot of things this week. Not all the things I wanted to, but that was more than okay. I truly believed that now. I walked up the staircase, gathered all my belongings and turned around to look at the bridge, dam, and river. I physically waved my hand in thanks to the view. Bye. Thanks for the ride. Literally and figuratively, haha. I was sad to leave.

I wanted to stay and learn more. Practice more. Improve more.

When we all got back to the shop, everyone went their separate ways after cleaning up. It was Friday, and everyone was tired and ready to go home. Drew met us at the back, and he, Korey, and I talked about my week. Korey stayed to do some work, while I got some wise words from Drew, which you can hear here:

Drew offered to drop me off at Korey's, and I gladly accepted. In the driveway, we wrapped things up. I thanked him for his patience, guidance, and encouragement, and he wished me well. As he drove off, I again wished I could stay in town longer. I wanted to know more about Drew too.

That night, Korey, Kyle, and I went out to eat. I was really excited about this. I had spent quite a bit of time with Kyle, but I felt like getting to know Korey had only begun that morning, and I was eager to continue. We went to this really nice sushi lounge, a restaurant that didn't seem like it belonged in Page at all. It looked like a sleek, uptown hotspot for singles – a completely new world. We saw Kyle Davis and Matia at one point too!

The three of us shared rolls, and it was the greatest meal. I was still affected days after. This was only my second time for sushi, and it was cool to realize that my taste buds had matured greatly since that time. One of my flexible goals for this journey was to acquire more distinct tastes, and it was nice to know that I was succeeding.

While eating, there was some more discussion of college and careerism. Both Korey and Kyle did not finish college, and I pressed further, asking if they were ever worried or embarrassed by their “unfinished” education. The Seyler brothers are very talented, intelligent individuals and they agreed that the degree never came because they were simply busy living life and being successful. They liked their lives as such, and they didn't want it to change by any means. They both have significant experience with the job industry, and talked about the importance of working hard at whatever you did in life, with some goal of passion in mind of course. Korey told me how learning was life and he just always operated that way. Just because he didn't get a huge portion of his learning from a college classroom didn't mean that any part of his life was unfulfilled. He told me this in a content, “it is what it is” tone, and I liked that.

We then talked about my life after the Program, and I told them what I was thinking: “I don't know what I'm doing. I feel as if everyone's moving back in with their parents.” When I said this, Korey immediately spoke up, saying that he didn't understand the trend. “What people should do is save up a little money, combine it with friends' funds, move to a big young city, and make it happen. Make it happen, that's what I did and do.”

I hate to keep repeating myself but I have to give you the facts. “Oh.” was how I responded. I never thought of things that way. Make it happen. I had a lot of thinking to do. The end of OWJ was fast approaching.

After dinner, we got dessert at a convenience store and went back home. I washed my clothes while Korey and Kyle had a heart-to-heart. I overheard Kyle say something that was really cute: “Man, I don't know. I'm going to miss working here all summer. I like Tucson a lot, but being a river guide is the best job. I know I won't ever find anything like it.” I smiled. That's another reason I wanted to be so good at river-guiding. The novelty.

After awhile, Kyle and I went out dancing, and Korey stayed in. Kyle and I connect on the issue of how dancing is necessary for nightlife. “You need to come down to Tucson,” he told me several times. “People really know how to dance there. They let go.” Of course I was going to remember that. I always find myself in places where people like to stand around and talk instead of dance to the music that is clearly begging to be treated right. Nonsense.

The night ended too soon, I slept, and then woke up early to finalize my packing and cleaning. I never said goodbye to Kyle as I left  the house, but I did get to see Easy, Kyle Davis, and Korey off when I dropped by the shop in the morning. As the warehouse door closed behind me, I heard Easy say "Have a nice life, Michelle!" I could feel his grin.

I don't think I've ever heard that statement delivered in such a genuinely positive manner. I've got to copy that dude more. He's just too good with his words. I mean, he's in Arizona, and I'm in Texas. No one will ever know.

Question Time.

What did you dislike about the job?

Having to constantly deal with multiple fears was never fun. It was stressful. That can be assumed. I also wish I had come earlier in the summer, because a lot of the river guides were burnt out by the time I got there. Had I gotten there in June or July, I would've gotten to experience more energy early on.

What did you like about the job?

I liked meeting new people every day, both guides and passengers. I liked the universal nature of being a river guide. Passengers come from all over the world, and according to Korey, the ages of guides range from age 18 to 65. That's a lot of years and lot of different backgrounds/stories on both sides. In this way, working with CRD was a gold mine for me. I also liked being outside, something I never thought...I would say. Everything that came from being outside was positive for me. The fresh air kept me well. Being surrounded by beauty every day of the job did wonders for my mind. The different effects of working within canyon walls and within office walls is astounding. I'm willing to bet that working as a river guide could be an effective part of a work-therapy program or something. To add to the healing aspect of being outdoors, being in Page enabled me to relive my childhood. Practicing slacklining, biking the streets, and playing catch/soccer with Iggy was so very rejuvenating for my soul and it made me want to revamp my life. I think I even like dogs now. I'm used to staying “in” things: indoors, in bed, in chair. I grew up without sand in my toes and bugs in my hair at any point in my life. I have always wondered if I could handle working outside. Being a river guide made me realize that it actually might be best for me. In short, my moments of diffidence and negativity were matched by moments of peace and tranquility.

What lessons did you learn from being a river guide / Week 7?

Tons. Tons. I think I will come to know more of them in the future as time passes and I have other experiences that I can apply the lessons to, but here are a few:

  1. Limits can always keep moving. They don't have to move fast, but they can still move.
  2. College is an opportunity, NOT a necessity. It may make things easier, but you create your destiny. You can make something out of anything.
  3. People are probably just as insecure as you are. Never assume anyone is better than you.
  4. Feelings of fear, insecurity, or negativity are not bad. They make you human. Express them to the right people, and you won't regret it.
  5. Small towns can have healing characteristics. Too much of something is never good, so get out into the big city when you feel yourself reaching the breaking point. But never underestimate the small. Nothing beats the power of now, and having no choice but to live by that power for a few weeks.
  6. Dogs aren't so bad...
  7. Neither is driving...
  8. Or being in a body of  water....
  9. Or being outside....
  10. Basically, you can always do more than you think [See Lesson 1].

Would you do this as a more-than-one-week-job?

Yes. Because I was so trapped in my limited knowledge, this job is one that I most wish I had more time for. With time and practice, I know that I could be an amazing river guide. I just need a lot of practice. I'm not quite sure if I can get as much as I need. But yes, I would do it. Best job ever, why wouldn't I?

Reflection Time.

When it comes to writing, there's always pressure to hold back, to not mention the not-so-cheery things. And it seems no matter how much you write about the positive, if you write about a hardship of some sort, people will only remember the latter. For the past seven weeks, I've only given you the truth. The unbridled truth, with all the easy, hard, and silly details. That's the only way I can share, and perhaps it's risky, but being me is better than anything else, in my opinion.

I feel the need to check in with You for a second and make sure that you understand the scope of my seventh job assessment. Here is the gist:

Learning to be a river guide was hard, and I was stressed and out-of-place the entire time. But I experienced many other, more positive emotions as well. The time I spent in Page, Arizona was good, because I improved in many areas that were virtually untouched before and I have hope as a result. I met great people who supported me and worked with a great company that does its job well. I was anxious all the time, but I relaxed a lot too. I mean come on, I was in the middle of nowhere, basically on vacation, increasing my life-expectancy through nature exposure. Overall, the week was a fruitful, necessary week.

AND I'm proud of myself for putting myself in the position to grow like I never have before.

I want to thank Korey and Drew for putting up with all my emotions, and for listening to me and working with me. You can imagine how awesome these two men are if they were able to handle me in my all-over-the-place state for an entire week. Thank you to all the CRD guides that trained me and again, listened to me talk about whatever I felt like talking about.

At the Sushi Lounge, Korey and Kyle made a good point. If an employer looks at your resume and they see the Job Title “River Guide,” they will almost always be impressed. They will definitely question you at the very least. I would recommend this job to anyone. There's a reason people call it “the best job ever," and a reason I have no problem using the phrase over and over, bringing it near ad nauseam. Anyone would do well to travel to Page, Arizona and work for CRD. If you don't want to work, go and experience the town, if anything. It's all beauty, so do it.

Now that I've done so many things on the water, I've got to get that swimming thing down and conquered. A good river guide would be better with swimming ability. I need to put my Week 7 experience to good use and I'll admit that I am running out of excuses. I guess I'll call Beth for swimming lessons soon.

Best Wishes,


If you want to know more about how you can apply to work at the Colorado River Discovery, click here!

Sixth Last Day: The Secret Realm

Recap Time. My last night in Austin was a late one. “Last nights” are always filled with weird emotions. You have to be focused because there are always a lot of little things that need to be taken care of before departure – packing, laundering, ticket-buying, calling, etc. And you're kind of sad because you're going to be leaving, maybe you don't want to leave, and you want to make sure you're using your last hours up well, soaking it all up. So you want to hang out with as many people as possible. But doing chores and hanging out with people makes the time pass quicker. So does sleeping. So your best option is just sitting somewhere by yourself, alone, reflecting. But that can get depressing, and you can't get depressed, because you need to gear yourself up for the new place you're going to, because that place is probably going to be just as awesome as the one you're about to leave.

Last nights” are a little rough.

I stayed up late after Beth, David, and Matthew went to bed. I did some laundry, wrote a lot, and ate a lot of Beth's chocolate chip cookies with craisins.

When I woke up the next morning, I showered and packed hurriedly. Cookies were in the kitchen again. Beth not only let me sleep in, but she packed some extra cookies for me to take on the road! I made sure David didn't see me tear up. Every morning I shared with the Brookses came with a tasty breakfast taco and a cup of coffee, both of which were made by David. This Friday morning, David switched it up. Toasted French bread, eggs with shredded cheese, turkey bacon, and orange juice. The breakfast of association professionals. :)

David and I loaded the car up with my luggage, and dropped Matthew off at driver's ed. That was to be my last time to see Matthew, so we said our groggy goodbyes. After that, David and I went to Wells Fargo so I could get some bills. I brought my luggage to work since I had to leave early. I took a picture with David, thanked him for everything, and said goodbye to him as well. It was a little after 9am when I got to the office, and everyone had read my first blog post for the week. That made me feel really good. It showed that TSAE actually cared about my thoughts, and that was encouraging. I was sad to be leaving soon.

Sonnia Montemayor and I had some overdue one-on-one time together. Well, Emmitt Smith was there too. As the Education and Knowledge Resources Director, she oversees anything that has to do with association education presented during conferences, webinars, seminars, and tradeshows. Sonnia works closely with Christine (Chris) Napierkowski, TSAE Meeting Coordinator, who deals with the logistics of all the TSAE programs. This includes finding venues, booking meeting rooms, and making sure all the necessary equipment is provided in all of the rooms. Sonnia previously worked with the National Automobile Dealers Association in Virginia. She discovered the association world while working for an auto dealership.

After getting to know Sonnia's role, she gave me the responsibility of designing and sending an electronic invitation for the Certified Association Executive (CAE) breakfast to be held at the Annual Conference in September. According to the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) website, the CAE program is “designed to elevate professional standards, enhance individual performance, and designate association professionals who demonstrate the knowledge essential to the practice of association management.” In short, the CAE credential in the association industry would be comparable to the M.D. credential in the medical industry. It takes a serious amount of time and study. One has to meet eligibility requirements, submit an application, pass an exam, and fulfill renewal requirements every three years. The program is not for everyone. You can still be a significant part of an association without becoming a CAE.

My fourth big task of the week was to order lunch. We all got Lu Ann platters from Luby's and had lunch in the office eating area. It was good to have most everyone together in one room, eating and talking. The rest of my last day was really quiet and peaceful. Nita Saunders, TSAE's accountant, and Josh left early so I gave them hugs and goodbyes. Around 4pm, Beth and I packed up and left so she could take me to the Greyhound station. At the station, Beth reminded me that the invitation to the Annual Conference in September was genuine and still there for me to take. I told her I would love to go, and would do all I could to attend. I experienced one last Austin hug and parting of ways, followed by another Greyhound adventure.

Question Time.

What did you dislike about the job?

The only thing I didn't like was that I was having so much fun and feeling so productive that I had too little energy or time to write about the fun I was having at the times that I wanted to. Long sentence, but that's what it is.

What did you like about the job?

As the TSAE boss, Beth impressed me greatly (if you haven't noticed already). Though she was very busy, she was always available to answer my questions, and was constantly making sure I was never bored and always a part of anything going on. Because of this, I always felt useful and the time passed quickly. In my observations, I also noticed that Beth took random times to quickly check in with her staff members on a personal level. I think it is for this reason that the staff felt comfortable talking with her about anything. I felt as if Beth was the one calling the shots, but that each staff member had complete control over their respective roles. Beth respects, trusts, and believes in her staff members, so I think they find it easy to return the favor.

There is heavy work that goes on in the TSAE office, but there are also special moments of hanging out and laughter. Even when I was in business professional clothing, I never felt as if I couldn't be myself, and that was new for me. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever been more confident in heels than I was during this week. And those heels were dusty from being in a suitcase for five weeks. Clothes were lint-y too. I still felt confident, happy. I may have actually been more hyper than usual, and I think that's because throughout the week, I felt more and more comfortable working with TSAE. That speaks wonders of the people I was surrounded by.

Meeting new people every day was thrilling. Sometimes it was overwhelming having to hear and explain one-week job to each person, but the fact that I got to hear about the person and their role in TSAE in return was worth it. The camouflaged nature of associations intrigued me as well. Associations are all around us and do so much for us, but few of us know about them. Being a part of an association, learning about an association, and getting the power to spread the news about associations is a little empowering.

Week #6 also gave me a more well-rounded view of Austin. Who knew that it was more than a music-hipster-indie-taco-getaway? I loved Austin before, and I love it even more now.

The last thing I liked about being an association professional was that I got to experience the effect of working at a nonprofit organization. I'll say it again: something about doing good for the good of all before anything else makes life richer.

What lessons did you learn from being an association professional / Week 6?

  1. If you're going to a new country and a native offers you specialty food, make sure they know that you're not very hungry. This will spare you a terrible stomachache. [DIPLOMACY] The Brookses travel a lot, so they know what it's like to be forced to eat foods that you would never choose yourself. They told me some horror stories. Because of this, they were constantly making sure I liked the food they offered me. It was sweet.
  2. Know and be vocal about your preferred work schedule. A few staff members implement what is called flextime, where they adjust their work schedule to a format that suits them best. They started to use this method after a flextime article was printed in the TSAE magazine that is released every other month. Everyone figured that they should practice what they advertise, so they decided to experiment. Sonnia likes to work from home on Monday so she can ease into the week. Josh likes to come early and stay late Monday through Thursday, so he can have a half-day on Friday and start his weekend early. Alaina likes the traditional 8 hour-day. So far, it seems that everyone is satisfied. I think more businesses should try the variable work schedule too, for the potential benefit of the entire company.
  3. Reply to touchy/tricky subjects in an email with care. [DIPLOMACY] Or don't reply. Or if you have to, get someone else to edit it first. And if it's more than two paragraphs, you might as well pick up a phone. Advice from Beth to AAEVT during Monday's training session.
  4. Praise someone when they're doing well, and kindly let someone know when they're not doing well. As a customer, you have a voice. Speak up. You'll improve something. Like an employee who is having a bad day, or the moods of other customers who would never speak up otherwise. Advice from David.
  5. Separate your work life and home life. When Beth was done with the official workday, she was done with work. I thought that was awesome.
  6. Make time for You every day. I mentioned in another post that Beth was a seasoned swimmer. Each day after work, she went to the pool alone and took a good swim. When she came back, it was obvious that that time alone was sort of a calming restoration for her. In making this conclusion, I would think of all the people I know who work just as hard as her, and have given up their ability to take time out for themselves. This is a shame.
  7. Spontaneity can be riveting, but routines can be too. The One-Week Job Program has been the biggest dose of unpredictability that I've ever had in my entire life, and it's been great. While this week contributed to that theme still, it also brought a lot of serious routine too. I had breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day around the same time. I think my health actually got better because of this. Every night I played the Wii with Matthew, or at least watched him play it with David. Beth swam every day after work. There were occurrences that I became used to very quickly, and just like the variety of my days at work, they brought extra spark to my life. This balance of opposite forces was a comfortable, inspiring mix.
  8. Travel is the key to understanding, and therefore to world peace.” During my first in-person conversation with Beth, she told me that one of her priorities in raising Matthew was making sure he got to travel and see the world as much as possible. When she said this, it reminded me of the quote you see at the beginning. As I got to know the Brookses throughout the week, their wisdom was hard to ignore. And I would notice things about Matthew that spoke to a maturity that many 16-year-old boys probably do not have yet. All three of them gave off a combination of patience, understanding, and caring that could only characterize people who have been exposed to many different environments, many different people. After having a difficult ride to Austin, living with the Brookses told me that regardless of any tough times I was experiencing, I was on the right track. My journey is and will continue to be a fruitful one.
  9. Experience first, judge later. I never cease to be humbled. Never. See Reflection Time section.

Would you do this as a more-than-one-week job?

I mean, I'm trying to do all I can to go to the Conference next month. You tell me.

Reflection Time.

I got connected with TSAE before I found the Jed Foundation, so I began the Program thinking I had one more office job than I had intended. After my un-favorite experience with the Foundation, I had stronger office-job judgments than before in regards to TSAE. Part of me expected this week to be full of suits, heavy proprieties, and slow hours, but I have to say, I had it backwards. Completely. When I stepped off the Greyhound bus onto the Austin pavement, I told myself to let any preconceived notions go, and I'm glad I did because they were way off the mark.

"I took the [association] job with the frame of mind that it would be a bit boring, but that it would work until I could find something more exciting. It's funny to think back on it now; I had no clue what my experiences would bring, not just professionally, but personally. The relationships I've built over the last five years have had a profound effect on me."


Every single person I met during this week had similar stories. They began working, unaware of what an association was, fell into a job with an association, fell in love with a job within an association, and ended up staying. Work with an association is far beyond work in an office. It's too worldly to be defined in that way. I'm so very glad that Beth is such a dedicated supporter of Sean and the One-Week Job message, otherwise I never would have discovered what can be described best as a cosmic realm of endless learning, diversity, professionalism, and just plain excitement. To everyone I met during my time in Austin, thank you for helping me find and understand such a treasure.


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Fifth Last Day: No Favorites, Just Fun & Freedom

I've apologized for inconsistent posting before, and here we are. I'm just going to stop with the apologies... I think I may have indicated in the past that I enjoyed working at the pizzeria the most out of all the one-week jobs. We have a “problem” now, because that is no longer the case. I could easily say the same thing about my time with Coda Coffee this past week. That it was my best experience. And though I've told you nothing about the job I'm in right now, I really like it too. I'm conflicted!

I've always been hesitant to identify favorites, and this is why. So, forget what I “had” said. This is not to say that I will not have a favorite in two weeks, just that I'm taking recanting a statement. Simply remember that once upon a time, Michelle was against coffee. Then she did that one-week job thing, and now she drinks coffee.

Change is real, and change can be good. YAY! :)

Recap Time.

My time with Coda was pretty routine, but no less stimulating. Wednesday through Friday, Tim and Jessica would pick me up around 7:45am as usual, and I'd head straight to the warehouse and get to work. I spent the rest of my warehouse hours on one order, Bane's project, that required bagging and packaging approximately 500 16oz bags of coffee beans of different varieties, whole bean and ground. The order took a long while, but I was happy that we finished it before the 2pm deadline on Friday. I seriously appreciate having a big task and a goal that I need to reach.

Embarrassingly, I ate out every day at lunch time. Brittany and Dean, sweet as they were, opened their pantry and refrigerator up to me for whatever I needed, but I always ended up eating the lunch I packed for breakfast. Marciano, Trestin, and I were then able to spend time together every day at noon. Workdays ended at 5pm, after which Tim and Jessica would take me home, and I'd wind down with a George Foreman Grill creation and some Lifetime drama. Last week had to be the most television I've watched since this beginning of all this.

It was on Thursday that I had that cupping experience that I talked about before. The cupping I did is not to be confused with the traditional method of Chinese medicine, and a video of it can be seen here:

This visual will explain it better than any words of mine could.

Friday was significantly slow, and as usual, to remain useful, I found a huge pile of dishes to clean. At the end of my last day, I forced everyone at Coda to take pictures, and I took home some coffee mugs and beans for Brittany and Dean! I was overjoyed at the chance to give back to them since they had helped me out so much.

As I had been staying in watching television, Brittany and Dean had had their own engagements to attend every evening. On my last night, they stayed in and Dean made us dinner :) Chicken fingers, fries, and broccoli - SCRUMPTIOUS. We watched When Harry Met Sally (please don't yell at me), my first time to see the movie, and then we went to bed.

On Saturday, I stayed in couch late and did some work on the computer. I then decided to go to the coffee bar around the corner for a cup and a bagel. I wanted to work on distinguishing tastes and aroma, put my coffee knowledge to work. :) I did some laundry, packed, and got some dinner before going out on the road. Dean packed me a nice little snack bag for the traveling, and I left Denver on the Greyhound, unlike the way I had arrived.

Question Time.

What did you dislike about the job and why?

There was very little I disliked about my time with Coda, except for two things.

  1. There were times where I felt I wasn't needed in the warehouse, when things were slow. While I did find dishes to clean, something I always love doing, I wish I knew enough to be able to help the guys out all the time, even in the tiniest way.
  2. There wasn't much overlap with job duties, and I think that would get to me after some time. When I was bagging beans, a few of the guys would walk by and joke with me: “You getting tired of that yet?” As I've said before regarding situations that most would find severely boring, I was completely fine with what I was doing, but I was only there for a week. I definitely don't want to be in a situation where someone who's been in the business for awhile comes up to me and asks me if I hate what I'm doing yet, because if I don't, I will soon. That's not too encouraging!

What did you like about the job and why?

I didn't like, I loved.

I loved the people. Everyone was relaxed from the beginning, mirroring the exact work atmosphere I had been hoping for and work the best in. Moreover, while everyone was generally calm, they worked hard. That spoke to me. The staff was also very real. When people were feeling hyperactive, they acted hyperactive. When people were feeling angry, they acted angry. And they expressed all those emotions in a sufficient amount of time. No dramatics. No excess. No hiding. That was really cool. Okay, I justttt realized that I worked with males the entire week. I don't want to say that this is a factor in the people-loving / work atmosphere but...your call.

I loved the passion. Tommy and Tim know their coffee, and they get excited about it. When Tim and I did deliveries on Tuesday, it was clear that his customers really respected him and fed off of his energy and dedication to making them happy. There were moments where I saw myself owning a coffee company, though that will most likely never happen. But that's how infectious Tim is! Tim is not only passionate about his profession, but he was also passionate about making sure he was doing all he could to make sure I got the most I could out of Coda Coffee with the Program. I truly believe he did just that.

I loved the family feel. Coda Coffee staff is a small but diverse group. There are a lot of different personalities within it, but the thing that really caught my attention was how comfortable everyone felt being themselves. I found out later it was because the staff is really close. There were many times where someone would bring up how Tommy and Tim treat their staff like adults, and how they take care of them as if they were their blood. About 90% of Coda staff knew not one thing about coffee before they came to the company. Many of them indicated that they fell in love with the industry not just because they needed the knowledge for the job, but also because the work environment made the learning process attractive and easy. Wherever I work, I want my experience to be like this. Hard but easy. You feel me?

What lessons did you learn from work at a wholesale coffee roaster / Week 5?

  1. It's okay to let others take care of you. As you'll find out later, I haven't REALLY learned this lesson. But I am learning it. Brittany and Dean were so so so nice to me. Besides the fact that they let me sleep at their place only a month after they moved in themselves (from Texas, mind you), they let me watch their television for as long as I wanted. They urged me to eat as much of their food as I wanted. They even trusted me to stay in their house alone, and left me a key just in case I wanted to go wherever I wanted. They wouldn't let me do anything to help them, and I didn't understand it. I'm still trying to. But this is the thing. If I were them, I would do the same thing for another if I could. In a heartbeat. So why can't I trust others to love on me? Someone help me answer this.
  2. REALLY try something and immerse yourself in it before you write it off completely. See Post: Dear Coffee: Friends ?
  3. Don't be ashamed. For anything. For anyone. In addition to their big hearts, I was amazed at Brittany and Dean's unashamed and consistent indulgence in unhealthy foods. Sour Patch kids, cupcakes, Hershey's kisses, graham crackers, Pringles, oven fries, chicken fingers. I should add that they work out, look like very fit people, and eat other stuff, but I was still just amazed. I feel as if it's almost customary in this day and age to provide some reasoning to those around us whenever we eat that ice cream late at night for the fourth night in a row. We feel guilty because we want others to know that our likelihood of gaining excessive amounts of weight is low, or if it happens, it won't be due to our poor eating habits. But who cares? Who cares. I'm going to eat more ice cream right now. Thank you, Brittany. Thank you, Dean. You've given me confidence to eat that second chocolate chip cookie for BREAKFAST.

(But yikes! Seriously, after my pizza week and this, I need to get my body rightttttt! Tubby Michelle, is that you?)

Would you do this again, as a more-than-one-week job?

Definitely. Definitely.

To Tommy, to Tim. To Jessica, To Laura. To Brian, To Todd. To Issac, To Seok. To Adam, To Trestin. To Bane, To Marciano. To anyone I missed because it's probable. If I liked favorites, you might have been one of mine. Thanks for being so authentic, informative, chill, and for bringing a new beverage into my life. What a great gift you've given. Thanks again.

Reflection Time.

Do what you do.

Do you.

This would be an example:


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P.S. No, "Teqnique" is not a word.

Fourth Last Day: Don't Forget Lonely, Don't Stay Lonely

Tomorrow, we'll be halfway there. Officially. Everything has been crazy fast. I can't think of one moment where the time seemed to drag on. Nope, not when I was staring at a computer for 8 hours a day. Nope, not even when I was stuck on a bus with a blown-out tire for four hours, fifteen minutes away from Job #2.

Well with the bus, the looming possibility of a riot of people who "just can't take it anymore!" was secretly thrilling and hilarious to me. So maybe that situation isn't the best example.

There are seconds where I wish I could fully comprehend the passage of time, but then those seconds fly away because I'm too busy living those seconds, filling those seconds with memories that matter. I suppose the only thing that I can do...that I can keep stop. And give thanks. In any way possible. I think I can slow the clock this way. Just a little bit. Sufficiently.


Recap Time.

I've had the privilege of being able to stay in Boston for two weekends, because most of my sight-seeing has happened during those times. With another 35-40 hour/week job, I hate to finally admit it...but... *AHEM* I love staying in, as long as I have the option of going out. Of course, every week is different...but the trend is there. I'm a homebody! Marsha really isn't, and I didn't want to cramp her style, so most nights she would go out (though she felt terrible about it), I would stay in...and if I was awake when she returned, we'd talk a bit.

Thursday night was a little different. Marsha and I went to restaurant called Joe's American Bar and Grill. Lately, I've opted for sweet potato fries instead of french fries, and I'm VERY happy with my switch. Our food was scrumptious and the free dessert, a Charles River Pie, was insane:

Our waitress insisted that it was "Marsha's birthday," so we found ourselves in a situation where we felt guilty if we didn't finish the whole thing. So we did. Guh.

Friday brought my last day of work. Since it was my last day, Manager Roberto let me make the sign for the slice of the day. The sign usually consists of the phrase "Slice of the Day," a description of what the slice of the day is, some picture, and some quote.  Most commonly the picture is of a rap group, with a rap-related quote. When Roberto put me on the task, he left me with a google search for "biggie quotes." I tried my hardest to keep with the theme, but no grills, chains, or rap lyrics stuck with me. I wanted to add a little bit of Michelle humor too, so I ended up with this (on the right):

Several people laughed and commented on my artwork, but it only lasted an hour, after which it was quickly replaced by the General Manager. Something about it being inappropriate. Of course I understood. Mistakes, mistakes! :D

At the end of my last day, I took home a specialty pizza:

1/2 Brendan's Buffalo Chicken: "The classic combination of fresh buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil leaves, sliced tomatoes and fresh garlic."

1/2 Harvard Street: "White pizza, combines buffalo chicken, blue cheese and mozzarella."

It was raining so heavily as I left the pizzeria for the last time, that my shirt, shorts (both items of which I still hadn't laundered), and purse were drenched when I finally got to Marsha's apartment. The pizza boxes were affected to some extent as well. I had to let some slices go unfortunately. I was so worn out from the week , the rain, and cleaning up from the rain, that I just went to bed early.

Yesterday (Saturday), Marsha and I did some eating and shopping. I broke down and got a suitcase, because the duffel bag I've been carrying for the past four weeks was on the way to doing serious damage to my back. We ended the night at the movie theatre for some film-watching. I would say that the movie we watched is one of the best movies, if not the best movie, of the summer. Refreshingly real. I want so bad for the  movie to hurry up and become old and forgotten, so in the future, when someone asks me what my favorite movie is, I can say "[insert movie title]" and they can say:

"Ooooh...yeahh....GOOOOOOOOD one!"

That's all for my assessment. After the movie, it was YouTubes then sleep.

Today was a simple, lazy day. Sleeping in, laundry, and the beach. The weather was sweltering when we arrived, but it turned pleasant as time went on. Those there for tanning were disappointed. Since that didn't include me, I had a good time (chuckle).


Question Time.

What did you dislike about the job and why?

  1. "The boss is here - look busy!" syndrome. I don't understand forced distress, so watching the staff freak out every time the Upper Crust top-dog walked into restaurant wasn't something I did well with. I worked really hard as an Upper Crust employee because I enjoyed making the customers happy and I enjoyed the job, so I didn't see the point in stressing over looking busy when I already was. It was hard to stay calm when everyone else was on edge, though. Reminded me a little of my job last week...
  2. Having a boss-boss. To branch off point number one, I may have issues with authority. This again brings up the idea of "looking busy." It seemed that the few moments I would stop to look around for what I could be doing, a manager would catch me and get on me personally to do something, implying that I was wasting time thumb twiddling. I've had this happen to me many, many times, and it's one of my peeves. I was eager to receive these comments at the beginning of the week, because I honestly did not know what to do. But when it continued until the end of my stay, it became harder to deal with, and felt somewhat counterproductive.
  3. Low spirits. This point  branches off point number one and two. Wherever I work, I would prefer the place to be mostly relaxed, and full of communication. There were one or two days where the entire staff was in a horrible mood, and it really soured the restaurant atmosphere. Some customers felt comfortable enough to mention to me that they noticed the  mood. I found it astounding that customers could sense what was going on.  This isn't to say that bad moods shouldn't be experienced in the workplace, just that they should be addressed and that employees should feel comfortable enough to express what they are feeling. In addition, those higher up should be observant to notice when their employees aren't 100% themselves. Vibe is everything. Whether the vibe is negative or positive is up to everyone involved, but ultimately to those who have most  control.

What did you like about the job and why?

  1. Hyper-productivity. This was my favorite part about the job. There was always a table that needed to be wiped, a trash can that needed to be emptied, a water jug that needed to be filled, etc. Something or someone always needed help. The days flew by, and I loved every minute of them. At the end of the day, I felt as if there was no doubt I had earned my "wages."
  2. Teamwork and Trust. It is impossible to do this job alone. I really appreciated the fact that I could constantly ask for support and receive it quickly. There was never a time where I felt as if I was overloaded or overlooked. This sort of relationship is  really special.
  3. Customer service. See Post: It Starts With Me
  4. Different cultures. The entire kitchen staff and a good lot of the counter staff are from Brazil, and I found it stimulating to witness the way their conversations took place, even if I didn't know what was being said. I also found it fun to interact with them personally.  A lot of these interactions kept the atmosphere upbeat.
  5. Free Pizza. I've never eaten this much pizza in my life, and that's just fine with me.
  6. One-Week Job Support. The Upper Crust Pizzeria is wonderful because it was the best at taking a special interest in making me a part of their team. I truly felt as if they were supportive of both me and the program. Most of all, my experience felt honest, which should be evident in both the pros and cons of my time with the job. I really cherished the entire time I spent in Boston.

What lessons did you learn from working at a pizzeria / Week 4?

  1. There's power in a stranger. See Post: It Starts With Me
  2. Don't Ask "How Are You?" unless you really mean it. I can't stand when people ask questions solely for formality, or worse they will continue on with the conversation without even waiting for your answer! All day every day, I made it a point to ask every customer how they were doing in a meaningful tone. Sometimes I'd switch it up, as long as it indicated that I was genuinely interested in their state. It led to some good, quick conversations and connections. Several people would make it a point to tell me goodbye when they left, and to let me know that they were leaving a tip because of my hospitality. Being genuine feels good and pays good, friends. ;)
  3. Don't work with someone you're dating. I witnessed it while working, and I can't think of one positive to it...personal opinion, though!
  4. In order to love well, you have to let yourself be loved well. (See Reflection Time.)
  5. Don't doubt other people's charity. (Marsha's words!)
  6. DO NOT feel embarrassed by your mistakes. Apologize when necessary, laugh, and move on. This kept my experience positive, even when other staff members were not in the best moods. There were COUNTLESS times that I messed up, that I met with annoyance at my actions, that I was teased, that I did something inappropriate, that I...did something wrong. I smiled and laughed first, addressed the mistake sufficiently and efficiently, and moved on. It helped tremendously. Stay humble, y'all (this contraction has been getting me in trouble with the Easterners. I don't even use it much! Curse you, Texas)!

Would you do this again, as a more-than-one-week job?

Yes. :) That response is completely instinctive, so know that it's real, despite all the negatives I discussed.

I had an unparalleled time with Job#4. A big thank You to Roberto Rosa and Barry Proctor of The Upper Crust Pizzeria - Newbury Street. You both believed in me before you even spoke to me, and that is the type of risk, the type of FAITH in people that not many businessmen would have employed. Bless You both for the opportunity you gave me. I hope I didn't disappoint!

And to my great friend, Marsha...well, you know how I feel about You. Text me if you don't...


Reflection Time.

This week was both the hardest and best of my time in the Program. I think the emotional aspect of the Program has been sneaking up on me. I've been so busy being thankful, that I totally forgot to be honest with myself emotionally. I think it's easy to fall in this way when you're so busy doing so many things. The perspectives and comments from outsiders, while they can be so very encouraging, can also be blinding too.

So many people have contacted me, telling me how awesome a time I must be having, how lucky I am, how they wish they had done what I am doing. I love getting these words, because they keep me focused and positive, but I let them prevent me from thinking about any not-so-great emotions that can come from moving places week to week, and meeting new people constantly.

What Amanda, Kieley, and I are doing isn't easy. I won't speak for them entirely, because we're all wired differently. I can only speak for the ways in which I should be taking care of me. So let me say that today, I realize that sometimes I have felt lonely on this journey. During week 2, one of the Juice members, Alli, gave me a hug, and it left me feeling a little weird: Wow, I really needed that, I thought. I hadn't had a good hug in awhile, because I hadn't been around anyone I knew that well. It affected me.

I know now that I love meeting new people more than ever, but I sometimes need my own space. I have felt overwhelmed and tired beyond capability of social interaction. There have been times that I have stayed home not only because I was tired from work and didn't want to be tired for work the next morning, but also because I just couldn't meet  new people.

Ironically, it is during this week, while with a very close friend, that I realize all this.  I use the word "ironically", because while having these feelings of loneliness, reclusiveness, and ultimate frustration and confusion, I had trouble communicating them to Marsha. I had a good friend right in front of my face, something that I had been needing, but I was too confused to express my thoughts to her. Guilt was the root of all of this.

Subconsciously, I was feeling guilty for feeling anything but 100% positive and grateful for this experience. Part of me didn't want to disappoint someone I cared about so much, someone who had been rooting for me for so long. Someone who was letting me stay with her for a week, who wanted to have fun with me for a whole week. Because I never took the time to acknowledge what I was feeling, everything came to a head, and tension surfaced between Marsha and I.

So I say this week was the hardest. Not the worst. And it was the hardest not because of my job, but because of...well, everything. I eventually forced myself out of my comfort zone in yet another way, opening up to Marsha about things that I wasn't even sure I could explain well enough. The hardest thing then became the best thing, ,because this week ended up making one of the best friendships I have ever had stronger than ever.  We were fortunate enough to have received the chance to learn more about the other, and more about ourselves. So for all those One-Week Job skeptics out there who say a week isn't enough, it is. It is more than enough, and for more than you might think.

As I told Sean on the phone yesterday, even though I'm struggling a bit emotionally right n ow, leaving the Program early has never crossed my mind. This is how I know the growth is good. That's the difference between emotional harm, and emotional help. I'm simply the wiser at this point, and becoming  more so. From now on, I'll be checking in with my ENTIRE emotional self, just as much as I would check in with any of my friends. I encourage You to do the same, no matter what You are up to. You owe it to You. Please, don't forget what I have said here. Resilience is key.


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Third Last Day: Busy? Just Go to Bed.

Several people have informed me that too much time has passed since I've last written – I'm sorry for that! While I have been using my time for many other things (as always), that is not the reason for my blogging absence. It's been awhile because frankly, I've been having trouble figuring out what to say. In my first One-Week Job blog post, I said this: “I'll be talking about the jobs, of course, but the implications of my involvement in them will transcend the environment I'm in at the time.”

When I used these words a few weeks ago, I meant to convey to You that I wouldn't just be giving you a play-by-play of my work days, but that I would be asking questions that brought my experiences from the workplace into a universal place, one that You could easily access. Moreover, I meant do both things somewhat equally.

You may have noticed that I have given few details about what I was actually doing as a nonprofit worker. That's because I have very little to say about that part of the job, which is neither a great nor a horrible thing. It simply means that there are things to be to be said about why I feel the way I feel. This time around, things'll be much heavier on the question side and  less so on the task-oriented side. There is an opportunity for learning. I hope to shed some light on some of that “learning” in the "Question Time" section.


Recap Time.

Ah New York. I should've "pulled a Sean and Ian” and stayed for three weeks instead of just one! I don't blame them for doing so, because Anne truly spoiled me with her hospitality. The bulk of my NYC good times were with her and other B&C guests. I'm gonna miss the place, and the people. I have to go back so I can explore more! My last three days of Week #3 were nice.

On Wednesday, I was late to work for the first time. Courtney, the Executive Director of the Jed Foundation, arrived an hour so later into the work day, as he had not been in on Monday or Tuesday for vacation. I was given my third assignment of the week on Tuesday around 3:30pm, and was still working on it. I left at 6pm.

I felt an urge to (finally) treat myself to some foods, so I ate dessert at Pinkberry before heading to Lombardi's

The waiter was nice enough to take our picture!

Pizza, where I met a man named Alex. I introduced him to You on Thursday. You can see from the restaurant's website address that it's something special; it was the first pizzeria in the United States. I didn't elaborate on how Alex and I met each other, so here's the story I submitted on a forum I participate in:

i was waiting to eat alone at a pizzeria. Since I wasn't eating with someone, i had to wait longer for an open table. i overheard a server say that "two people are waiting to eat by themselves", and became confused. i then looked over the podium and saw that another man was also waiting to sit alone. i stuck my head around the podium, smiled and asked, "eating alone, huh?" as if i didn't know the answer already. He laughed and said "yeah" in response. Seconds later, as i had hoped, he asked " You mind sitting together? i don't. We'd probably get a table faster." HOORAY (i'm a little kid?)! i told an employee of the changed plans, we sat together, ate together, shared wisdom with one another, took a picture together, made a video together, and exchanged contact information in an effort to follow up. I can't tell you how pumped this occurrence made me. There's no harm in taking every opportunity to make a new connection, make a new friend.

Cute, I know. :D Meeting and eating with Alex was the best...yes, it was the best part of my time in New York. Something about connecting with a stranger spontaneously energized my spirit. It reinforced my strong belief in the power of stories, in our fundamental likeness as people, and in the too-common and unnecessary nature of fear and deceit.

Simply put, if we would just stop and talk to/listen to someone we've never met before, we might live a little more. We might learn a little somethin'.

I think we spend too much time fearing for and protecting our hearts. We hold back unnecessarily. When we do this, we hurt hurt ourselves AND others. I'm serious.

Wednesday night was a birthday celebration. Joe, Anne's beau, turned ____-years old. I joined Anne and Joe's friends, an eclectic bunch, at a bar that Joe used to work at. They drank, and I watched. We also ate some strawberry tort that Anne made. Yes, in the bar. It was HEAVENLY...I lasted until 12:45am!!!!!!!! My eyelids were quivering, but I did it! I went to bed smiling –   A SMALL IMPROVEMENT IS STILL AN IMPROVEMENT. :)

Everyone else went on until the usual 4am.

At the Jed Foundation, Thursday and Friday were much like Monday through Wednesday, including the tardiness bit. On Thursday, I reset my alarm one time too many, and on Friday, the subway decided to be 20 minutes late.

Oh Michelle.

Oh, I forgot about Thursday's meeting! I got to sit in on a meeting with the Jed staff members and two ladies from Slate PR, Lindsay and Shawn. The purpose of the meeting was to brainstorm an advertising campaign for a new website called “Transition Year”, aimed at promoting emotional wellness during the transition from high school to college.

The main concern was reaching out to the parents, since a common trend is that parents will believe in the prevalence of suicide for young adults, but they won't believe the statistics include their own children. Very sad. Many different methods were thrown out, most of which focused on piggybacking on the back-to-school marketing methods of other big corporations such as Target, Container Store, etc.

I was amazed at how good one of the staff members, Dana, was at coming up with social media outlets, and giving feedback on others' suggestions. There were moments where I felt like I was back in my account executive job from Week #1.

Thursday afternoon, I was STILL working on assignment #3. I wasn't joking about the inadequacy of the computer I used all week! Thursday evening, I ate dinner at another New York favorite, called 7a cafe. I ate a vegan black bean burger. I have to admit here that I overlooked the "vegan" part while ordering, so I was surprised when  I looked at my burger and couldn't find the beef HAHA....the "black bean" bit won me over. Nevertheless, it was a good meal. I got some writing and reading done at the restaurant too, so that was relieving.

Friday was really quiet because 3 out of the regular 5 staff members were out of the office, including Courtney. I said some lines up that I was late because the subway was. I took it upon myself to use my Starbucks gift card to get a grande black iced tea and a multi-grain bagel while waiting. I may have to graduate from green tea - the black iced tea was great! NOTHING beats a good breakfast, let me tell you!

Still working on assignment #3, I finished around 3:30pm and was allowed to go home early on my last day. My bus was to leave 14.5 hours later, so I decided not to feel guilty about leaving before 6pm. Back at the B&C, Anne pressured me into eating the last slice of leftover Strawberry tort, and then I took it too far and ate some of her rum cake too. Oopsies. You only do the One-Week Job program once!

Friday night being my last in the city, Anne was so sweet to take me out to dinner. Her daughter Janette joined us. We (She) was having trouble deciding between Ethiopian or Indian. We finally decided on Ethiopian, but the place had closed down! Apparently this sort of thing is common: As one business closes down or moves location suddenly, a new business springs up shortly thereafter. We then tried an Italian place, but the wait was two hours. Finally settling on The Mermaid Inn, a seafood restaurant, I tried octopus, calamari, lobster, and swordfish for the first time. Tasty.

As I told my friend Casey:

"Michelle is a picky eater, but she's trying! :)"

I didn't sleep Friday night in order to take advantage of the bus ride...which actually turned out to be a not-so-good idea. I'll explain later. Around 5am, I packed my things, walked out of the B&C, and caught the attention of a taxi driver right away. After all, it was Friday night. The bars had closed only an hour earlier. On the way to Port Authority, I asked the driver a few times if he heard me and really knew the location of where I needed to go. His responses indicated that I was angering him. I could've felt bad for repeating myself, but I didn't care enough. Let's not forget what happened when I got into New York City. You can never be too sure.


Question Time.

What did you dislike about the job? Why?

There were several things that I didn't like about the job, but I was far from miserable. The hardest thing for me was that I felt disconnected from the rest of the staff. I'm not sure I came at the best time, because unfortunately, I wasn't able to talk to Courtney very much. Being the Executive Director, he was my primary contact for the one-week job. When he was in the office, he was trying to catch up on the things he had gotten behind on while away. That made it hard to get some good video and discussion in, and I didn't want to rush anything. I wanted things to be comfortable, natural. There wasn't a time where I felt that was possible.

The job was basically 8-hour-days, all business. Any talk that went on was 90% business-related. Talk was pretty minimal otherwise. This environment wasn't easy for me. It got to a point where I got to be very subdued, where I felt that saying certain things at certain times would be inappropriate. Things were a little too professional for me, and it was more than the fact that I was the only one in casual clothing! I just think I was too out of place last week.

In addition to the small amount of discourse, I didn't like  that I was in the same chair for the entire work period. Ironically, I opted to push through the entire day without a break or a very small one, so I could keep the momentum going. In my mind, I had worked so hard to keep going at my desk, I didn't want to ruin it by going out for some fresh air. As a result though, I think I was already in the very early stages of losing my “spark.”

As I may have been uncomfortable in the sense that it wasn't a situation I would be in on a regular basis, my efforts to make the best of it put me in a sort of dangerous comfortability. This "dangerous comfortability" is characterized by a situation in which You tolerate Your existence to a point where You give up and refrain from questioning the alternative. You find your current state forever favorable to anything else.

What did you like about the job? Why?

I loved having something to do at all times. It was a positive change from Week #1 and Week#2. It made me feel busy, and in a way, kept me motivated in the experience. By the day's end, I had physical proof that I had worked throughout the day. I also liked that I got to read about a topic I find so serious in today's world. While I knew most of the information exposed to me throughout the week, I felt happy that I was using my time to read about something I loved.

What lessons did you learn from working as a nonprofit worker?

The people You work with can really determine how positive Your work life is. The Jed Foundation staff was nothing but kind to me, but as I said earlier, I talked to them very little because everything was focused on their own tasks, in their own areas. For me, I think I need not only to like the people I work with, but also to know them on a genuine level. I need to be joking around AND working with my co-workers. I need some times at work where I can hear their stories and get to know them better. I need my work to not feel like work in part because of the people I work with. I don't think I experienced this sensation enough in Week #3.

There's also the lesson in the importance of doing ALL that You do with a sincere effort, whether you like it or don't like it. Fosters good character and resilience.

Would you do this again, as a more-than-one-week job?

I feel so sad to say “no”, but I can't really say “yes.” I would be lying. I would have no problem doing the job if it was the best option at the time, but if I had other options, I would not do this job again.


Reflection Time.

This job brought up the topic of “being busy” in comparison to “being productive” in my mind. In thinking about my duties throughout Week#3, I was reminded of my time in school. As a teenager, I went to a few highly-competitive schools. We always had many assignments due on the daily, and there was always a competition in discussing who did what and how much. There were several times where I would be up actually studying (and You know I like my sleep), and I would walk around the library to find that some of my friends were up as well.

Even though they kept claiming they were studying for a test 4 weeks or some ridiculous amount of time away, they were Facebook-ing, or even better, drooling at their computer. They were preoccupied with looking busy, or at least having a lot of things that they could say were on their plate. They may not even have realized it, but the evidence was there that to them, the key to success, self-worth, and praise was to be busy, too look busy. Their goal wasn't to be efficient, or truly productive. They were struggling to stay awake and keep their hard-working image alive, when they were probably better off sleeping.

Working with The Foundation, there were times that I was at my desk and I felt the need to tell one of the staff members that I was honestly working, that the computer was just slow. There were times where a staff member would pass behind me and my heart rate would increase. I felt guilty that I was wasting time at my computer, when really I was doing my assignment, and doing it thoroughly. In actuality, I was completely innocent.

Later in week #3, I started listening to my iPod so I could concentrate better, and I felt guilty for that too. I felt pressure to look busy, because being busy is something that others can see. I was at that desk, subject to observation and assessment at any time, within a certain time frame, so there was that pressure to look alive 24/7. Productivity doesn't necessarily operate the same way, and I think it's hard to have confidence in how efficient we are with our time when no one is looking. I prefer when no one looks, though. I want to go for that confidence.

While Job #3 wasn't the most enjoyable one-week experience for me, I still thank the Jed Foundation for welcoming me into their space. In doing that, they showed their support for my journey in self-growth, and for the One-Week Job Program and mission. I thank them for enabling me to find out what I don't like, which is just as important as finding the opposite. Again, remember that this is my personal experience, and I bear no judgment on the Jed Foundation staff. Nor do I bear any judgment on a "desk job" for other people. We are all different. We have different wants, needs, likes, and dislikes. Don't get me wrong here. I'm simply giving you my true heart when I talk to You.

So What About You?

What is the difference between “being busy” and “being productive”? Do You think there is a focus on the former when it comes to the workplace?

I had a great first day of work at Job#4. Can't wait to share some of the details with You!


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Second Last Day: Away from Ann Arbor

Hi :) Before I go on about myself and my adventures with the One-Week Job Program, I want to take a minute and talk about the One-Week Job Project.

Many of You know that Sean released a book in May. Soon to follow is a sure-to-be-hit of a movie, One-Week Job - The Documentary. For the movie to be 100% ready, Sean and Ian need some extra support. Even if I weren't a participant in this Program, my stance on the movie would be unchanged:

This movie is important for all of us.

The One-Week Job Project has already done so much for the future of our existence by asking questions that many people wouldn't think or dare to ask.

How are You spending your days on Earth? Are You slaving away, working 80 hours a week only to get your reward in Your last years? Why not reward Yourself now, by searching for what You love, and LIVING IT? You'll live happier, and You'll probably live longer. Think about it. Even if just for a second.

This is what we need in our lives, friends. We need to be challenged so we can give ourselves that personal freedom we ALL deserve. So please, give something novel a chance, and give a little somethin'-somethin' to the One-Week Job documentary! You are NOT giving away money to another person looking only for personal gain. You're giving love and support for the betterment of us. The betterment of us. Okay, (DONATE!!!!!!!) done with that.


Early Friday morning, Alli took me to the Arboretum, which was a breath-taking experience. We then went for Washtenaw Dairy doughnuts. If You ever find yourself in Ann Arbor, GO TO Washtenaw Dairy. This was my second trip, and I got six doughnuts...I wanted to make sure I got my fill! I just don't understand why everything that tastes good has to be fried. It's bothersome, really.

The outreach show Friday night was approximately an hour away in Lansing, Michigan. I'm terribly uneducated about environmental issues, but in hearing/reading the presentation from the Stewardship Network, I learned a little. Once more, passion was displayed. It was obvious how dedicated all the staff members were to the environmental cause. The way they talked about certain issues, their facial expressions full of focus and sincerity. It made me want to take time to research and make efforts to become more conscious of the nature around us, which is how POSITIVE passion works. It makes others pay attention, and want to know what You're about. Beautiful.

The show was great as expected, but it was a bittersweet event. Collin didn't show up because he had a family

event to attend, and Noah and Mel ended up leaving afterward to go see family members as well. In a way, this last show of the week was an ending point for my interaction with some of the members. I was extremely camera-happy on this day, and I think it was because I was desperate to capture memories before I left. This one-week thing can be hard at times!

After we got back to Ann Arbor, we went out for an hour or so around midnight-thirty. I know everyone was tired, so it was so kind of Phil, Brandon, Julie and Alli to take me out. It was probably because I had mentioned my love for dancing every hour on the hour since I had come into town. Upon surveying the crowd at the club, the diversity shocked me. Top 40 "boom booms" (this is what the group calls dance music...I'm going to try this term out in another state and see what reaction I get) were playing and people of different dressing styles, different ages, and MANY different ethnicities were focused on gettin' down. The scene made  me so, SO happy. I felt so comfortable being around so many new people. I know it's only been one week, but I might end up falling in love with traveling.

The night out ended around 2am, and we all went right to sleep.

Saturday morning, most of the members left to go on different errands at different times, so I had to say goodbye one by one. Julie took me to the bus stop, so she was the last person I saw. Leaving Ann Arbor around 6pm, I was at peace with the end of my second one-week job. Endings can be good if we make them. After all, my time was spent very well. I can see myself in Ann Arbor again. I hope it's sometime soon.

Question Time.

What did you dislike about the job? Why?

There were times that I felt as if I was not useful, and that was extremely hard for me. Not being a trained musician, my knowledge of the equipment was limited, so I wasn't much help in crunch time. This is a downside to only being in a job for week, and I knew that coming in. Experiencing it is a different story though.

What did you like about the job? Why?

I loved getting to listen to music being made every day. The happiness I got from this just re-confirmed how important music is to me, and that whatever I do will have to incorporate it in some way.

I liked being a part of such a close group that was able to work together so well, separating personal issues and business issues. There weren't any cliques, and I was quickly accepted as part of the group. I could tell their actions were genuine because I was exposed to a heavy spectrum of each person's personality, haha. I got to witness joy, fatigue, stress, and so many other emotions with this job. The healthy camaraderie was refreshing, and so was seeing how integral each member was to the success of the entire show. You get a little confidence with your contribution, and you get some love and support because you need the help of another. Good combination.

I also enjoyed the idea of having more than one job, maybe two. One is your primary interest or love, and another is a job that doesn't drain you, but still keeps you challenged because you don't necessarily love it as much as the first. In other words, the second job makes you appreciate the job you love or the time spent on what you love more. I could see myself employing this technique.

What lessons did you learn from being a producer-roadie-rock star-mostly-rock-star?

  1. If You don't know how to help, clean. First of all, there is always something to be done. Secondly, if you don't believe the first point, know that something is ALWAYS dirty. That should do some convincing. When the group was intensely practicing for their big show on Wednesday, I stayed out of the way so they could prepare efficiently. I was struggling with staying occupied. I then noticed how messy the work room was, and began to clean. I got satisfaction out of being productive, and it turns out that I gave the group significant help. Cleaning is just so darn fulfilling to me. Therapeutic, even.
  2. Friends can work, play, and live together without killing each other...all at the same time. I have a rule against anything but "playing" with my friends, but being with Juice has made me seriously reconsider that rule.
  3. Worry/anxiety isn't necessary. While thinking about my part of the show, I was deciding whether to get nervous. A few of the band members asked me if I was nervous, and I decided to say "no." I figured that whether I worried or not, the show was going to go on. Nothing horrible would happen if I "messed up", and if I got too nervous, I'd just make the experience unenjoyable. So, I made the decision to just rock out. And I had a great time doing it. This mentality can be applied to several scenarios in life. Worrying wastes time, friends.
  4. It's okay to be a photo addict. I was never that girl that said "PHOTO OPP!" every minute, but I may be turning into her. Just a little bit. I always found carrying a camera to be an inconvenience, and taking pictures to be a distraction. However, I was ridiculous on Friday, taking 124 photos. I took nearly 200 photos and 11 videos overall! I realize now that taking pictures is kind of fun, and at the end of all this, I think I'll really appreciate going out of my comfort zone in this way. The One-Week Job Program, growing Michelle yet again.
  5. Smile first. Yep, lesson learned once more. If I left Juice with anything, it may have been with simple encouragement. I tried my best to keep the energy up because I knew the week was stressful and my presence need not be anything but positive. So I brought the smiles and the pump-ups. I think (I hope) it made a difference, for them and for me. :)

Would you do this again, as a more-than-one-week job?

Yes, as a roadie mostly. I could see myself learning more about the equipment, being able to organize it and maybe even becoming a sound technician, helping to set up an actual stage. I'm good at staying calm under serious time pressure, and at getting people pumped up for shows. I got very little exposure on the production company side of things, but I think that is something I could definitely be a part of as my musical exposure/connection. The rock star bit wouldn't hurt either, as a guest! :)

In retrospect, my initial love for Juice did nothing but increase exponentially throughout my time in Michigan. I'm glad I had no expectations because I was pleasantly surprised. To the witty, beautiful, gifted, selfless group Juice -  Noah, Hiro, Mel, Phil, Julie, Brandon, Collin, Erin, and Alli:

Thank you.

You gave me a deeper appreciation for music and memories. I wish You all knew how big of a deal that is. In boldly pursuing your dream, you are all mentors to me. I will miss You all very, very much. I'll be emailing. :)

So What About You?

What is it about music that connects people and brings them together instantly?

For me, I honestly believe that music will play a significant role in bringing about world peace. That's all I really have to say about that. :) As a calming end to this post, enjoy this piece from Friday's performance. Noah of Juice displays his hand-talent with a transformed tank:

Off to watch the World Cup final!


For the last time:

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